By Leanne Wood – Vodafone Group Chief Human Resources Officer
As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis and our lives evolve into different variations of ‘normal’, many of us are reflecting on the impact the crisis has had on our lives. During the pandemic, Vodafone kept society connected at a time when it mattered more than ever. To meet the pressing needs of our customers while keeping our employees safe, we changed the way we worked almost overnight with 95% of our employees working remotely using technology and digital tools to serve our customers. Our regular pulse surveys have shown our people have felt proud of the contribution they have been able to make and they have been well supported by Vodafone through these changes. We continue to put the health and safety of our employees first, while looking ahead to what our recent experience has taught us for the future.
While Vodafone was an early adopter of flexible working many years ago, we are taking our learnings from the most recent crisis and gathering input from our employees around the world on what we do next, noting that what started out as an experiment is now in fact an accepted way of how we work. While in the past around a third of our managers felt sceptical about the effectiveness of flexible working, they have told us this is no longer the case and over 80% of our employees support more working outside our offices.
With our proud history of progressive policies for our employees and supporting diversity and inclusion through maternity leave, parental leave, taking action against Domestic Violence and Abuse, we believe the time is now for a new career experience with Vodafone, with a focus on inclusion, agility and engagement. This means that going forward Vodafone will provide greater flexibility for our employees and teams between working remotely and at the office, removing location where we can as a role requirement, making greater use of better digital tools to support both in person and virtual collaboration and innovation, and creatively evolving our office space to support these ways of working.
We are just at the beginning of creating our Future Ready Vodafone. Our global framework focuses on three key areas of the experience of being a Vodafone employee, investing in skills development and talent, and expediting our own digital transformation.
Data from our recent experience shows that we can be at least as productive by working more flexibly and working together without being defined by a physical office space can spark creativity and new ways of thinking, providing a better experience for our people that ultimately will benefit our customers and society.
Greater flexibility on working location supports our unique culture at Vodafone where individuals and teams have the freedom to tailor the way they work to their own work styles and personal needs. When we do come together in person we want to connect, co-create, and innovate by moving from the passive use of our office space to deliberately making our office space work for us, as well as ensuring that every employee has a safe place to work.
Investing in Skills and Talent
Diversity and inclusion are core values for Vodafone and we want to be representative of the customers we serve and society. We believe that we can open up Vodafone to new employees who might have been excluded in the past, simply because they live too far away from or had difficulty getting to one of our offices. With a reduced dependence on location we will also be able to increase career opportunities for our employees enabling them to fully leverage their skills for roles that may be of interest to them.
Vodafone is committed to increasing opportunities for our employees to develop new skills as we accelerate our own digital transformation. For example, our Skills Mobility app is already helping people across our markets connect with opportunities to work in roles or on projects in different locations. We are piloting ways in which we can reskill at scale and pace, and will invest in skills development to be ready for the future, providing our employees with digital skills, professional development, training opportunities, and a commitment to supporting lifelong learning.
With all the changes of recent months, we recognize that we can now go faster with our own digital transformation within Vodafone. We know that the need for interaction and connectivity is greater when people are not physically located together and we are investing in the latest technology and tools for collaboration as well as simplifying our processes and systems to make it easier to get things done.
While the last few months have been tough and challenges remain, we know the opportunity is now to change the way we work. As we listen to our employees and learn from other companies we are grateful for the openness of our employees to try new ways of doing things, to experiment and to learn and we are confident that by working together we will continue to define and create a Future Ready Vodafone.